Backpacking Lite

Pacific Crest Trail logo

Pacific Crest Trail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the backpacks in the pictures. Both packs are empty, but the red one, with external frame, is already twice as heavy as the green one. And, because it is much bigger, you will cram extra stuff into it.

The red pack is almost identical to the one I used on the Appalachian Trail in ’03, and it topped out around 47 pounds (including food, but not water). I don’t think I ever got it under 40 pounds, and this contributed to a knee problem I had out there.

I learned the hard way to buy a light pack and to pack light. I used the smaller, no-frame pack on the Pacific Crest Trail and topped it out at 31 pounds. I doubt my knees would survive the A.T. today carrying over 40 pounds plus water. Today you will find ultra-lite long-distance hikers who carry less than 20 pounds!

Ray Jardine was the early guru of light backpacking. I studied his 1999 book Beyond Backpacking and learned a lot. And I’ve since read his later one, Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking. Reducing pack weight is the number one issue for any long-distance hiker. If it isn’t a necessity, don’t haul it. Modify what you have. Rather than the old Boy Scout metal fork and spoon, buy a plastic spork. Think tarp rather than tent in milder weather. Get a tiny stove. Do you absolutely need a stove?

What a difference a light pack makes.  Happy Trails!

Five Other Uses For Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Leki Trekking Poles

Leki Trekking Poles

kearsarge pass

Trekking poles enabled me to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails. I had “runner’s knee” prior to long-distance hiking, and I owe any trail accomplishments to trekking poles. However, there are other uses for them besides saving your knees.

1) Tarp set-up.  Because the poles are adjustable, you can have multi-length tarp supports.

2) Stream crossings.  Some of us know how easy it is to fall from slick rocks staggered in streams. And how quickly you can take an unplanned bath when you step on an underwater rock that chooses to wobble. Trekking poles provide stability. Prod with your poles, then step with confidence.

3) Defense.  I’ve never encountered wild dogs, or a mean animal, but I know such critters are out there. I feel safer having poles. Snakes, including rattlers, hang out by rocks; poles make it easy to bang about, driving them off.

4) Splints:  Joslyn, who writes the blog, UltraLight Backpacking or Bust!, reminded me that adjustable hiking poles make good splints.

5) Upper body conditioning.  As your hiking legs get stronger, your upper body becomes weaker, at least on long hikes. If you push off regularly, especially to drive yourself up hills, you will maintain upper body strength.

Related articles

Backpacking Lite

Pacific Crest Trail logo

Pacific Crest Trail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the backpacks in the pictures. Both packs are empty, but the red one, with external frame, is already twice as heavy as the green one. And, because it is much bigger, you will cram extra stuff into it.

The red pack is almost identical to the one I used on the Appalachian Trail in ’03, and it topped out around 47 pounds (including food, but not water). I don’t think I ever got it under 40 pounds, and this contributed to a knee problem I had out there.

I learned the hard way to buy a light pack and to pack light. I used the smaller, no-frame pack on the Pacific Crest Trail and topped it out at 31 pounds. I doubt my knees would survive the A.T. today carrying over 40 pounds plus water. Today you will find ultra-lite long-distance hikers who carry less than 20 pounds!

Ray Jardine was the early guru of light backpacking. I studied his 1999 book Beyond Backpacking and learned a lot. And I’ve since read his later one, Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking. Reducing pack weight is the number one issue for any long-distance hiker. If it isn’t a necessity, don’t haul it. Modify what you have. Rather than the old Boy Scout metal fork and spoon, buy a plastic spork. Think tarp rather than tent in milder weather. Get a tiny stove. Do you absolutely need a stove?

What a difference a light pack makes.  Happy Trails!

Backpacking Lite

Pacific Crest Trail logo

Pacific Crest Trail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the backpacks in the pictures. Both packs are empty, but the red one, with external frame, is already twice as heavy as the green one. And, because it is much bigger, you will cram extra stuff into it.

The red pack is almost identical to the one I used on the Appalachian Trail in ’03, and it topped out around 47 pounds (including food, but not water). I don’t think I ever got it under 40 pounds, and this contributed to a knee problem I had out there.

I learned the hard way to buy a light pack and to pack light. I used the smaller, no-frame pack on the Pacific Crest Trail and topped it out at 31 pounds. I doubt my knees would survive the A.T. today carrying over 40 pounds plus water. Today you will find ultra-lite long-distance hikers who carry less than 20 pounds!

Ray Jardine was the early guru of light backpacking. I studied his 1999 book Beyond Backpacking and learned a lot. And I’m going to buy his new one, Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking. Reducing pack weight is the number one issue for any long-distance hiker. If it isn’t a necessity, don’t haul it. Modify what you have. Rather than the old Boy Scout metal fork and spoon, buy a plastic spork. Think tarp rather than tent in milder weather. Get a tiny stove. Do you absolutely need a stove?

What a difference a light pack makes.  Merry Christmas!

Five Other Uses For Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Bridge of the Gods, Oregon-Washington

Hiking with trekking poles--other uses
Leki Trekking Poles

Trekking poles enabled me to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails. I had “runner’s knee” prior to long-distance hiking, and I owe any trail accomplishments to trekking poles. However, there are other uses for them besides saving your knees.

1) Tarp set-up.  Because the poles are adjustable, you can have multi-length tarp supports.

2) Stream crossings.  Some of us know how easy it is to fall from slick rocks staggered in streams. And how quickly you can take an unplanned bath when you step on an underwater rock that chooses to wobble. Trekking poles provide stability. Prod with your poles, then step with confidence.

3) Defense.  I’ve never encountered wild dogs, or a mean animal, but I know such critters are out there. I feel safer having poles. Snakes, including rattlers, hang out by rocks; poles make it easy to bang about, driving them off.

4) Splints:  Joslyn, who writes the blog, UltraLight Backpacking or Bust!, reminded me that adjustable hiking poles make good splints.

5) Upper body conditioning.  As your hiking legs get stronger, your upper body becomes weaker, at least on long hikes. If you push off regularly, especially to drive yourself up hills, you will maintain upper body strength.

That’s the mighty Columbia shot from the center of The Bridge of The Gods. PCT thru-hikers cross this river, which separates Oregon and Washington.

Backpacking Lite

Take a look at the backpacks in the pictures. Both packs are empty, but the red one, with external frame, is already twice as heavy as the green one. And, because it is much bigger, you will cram extra stuff into it.

The red pack is almost identical to the one I used on the Appalachian Trail in ’03, and it topped out around 47 pounds (including food, but not water). I don’t think I ever got it under 40 pounds, and this contributed to a knee problem I had out there.

I learned the hard way to buy a light pack and to pack light. I used the smaller, no-frame pack on the Pacific Crest Trail and topped it out at 31 pounds. I doubt my knees would survive the A.T. today carrying over 40 pounds plus water. Today you will find ultra-lite long-distance hikers who carry less than 20 pounds!

Ray Jardine was the early guru of light backpacking. I studied his 1999 book Beyond Backpacking and learned a lot. And I’m going to buy his new one, Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking. Reducing pack weight is the number one issue for any long-distance hiker. If it isn’t a necessity, don’t haul it. Modify what you have. Rather than the old Boy Scout metal fork and spoon, buy a plastic spork. Think tarp rather than tent in milder weather. Get a tiny stove. Do you absolutely need a stove?

What a difference a light pack makes!